Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Stuff

So John W. McBush "won the week" according to something called "The Note" by (in addition to having one of his surrogates call Americans whiners, as well as McBush mixing up the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers) kicking out elderly librarians from campaign events, did he? And class move to claim that it was the Secret Service's idea, when in fact it was his campaign...

...and here's more lies; for starters, he opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act (more noted here).

...I knew Edwards wouldn't have voted for FISA anyway, but he confirms it here...

...and here's "Free Evenings And Weekends (The FISA Song)" by Max And The Marginalized (here).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Stuff

If you think you already detest KBR/Halliburton, get a load of this (and this)...

...and I have a feeling that Jonathan Turley was shocked to realize what he was saying, but he's absolutely right.

The "Palmetto State" Comes Out Of The Closet

This McClatchy story tells us that South Carolina’s Department of Tourism apparently needs to “go back to the drawing board”…

South Carolina's top tourism agency has canceled an overseas advertising campaign targeting gay tourists.

The campaign, tied to gay pride week celebrations in London, included ads that proclaimed "South Carolina is so gay." A handful of other U.S. destinations joined the campaign, including Atlanta, Boston and New Orleans.
Yeah, yeah, I know, but guess what; we’re not doing too well when it comes to tourism in this country, even with the weak dollar (as noted here).

So, as a bit of a public service, here are my recommendations for travel campaigns that could help impart goodwill to those traveling to our shores...

Florida – Mickey’s Packing Heat

New Jersey – Land Of Toxic Waste And Tony Soprano

New Mexico –
We Are Not Alone

Nevada –
Come And Pump More Than Gas

Virginia – Wanna See The World’s Largest Organ? (stalacpipe at
Luray Cavernseasy now)
But then again, instead of overseas gays traveling to South Carolina, they could journey to Utah instead based on this..??

Bushco…Hazardous To Our Health, Again

The New York Times opined as follows today…

Dr. (John) Howard’s six-year term as director of (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the Department of Health and Human Services, expires on Monday. He had asked to be reappointed, but just before the long July Fourth weekend Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the disease control centers, let him know that she was beginning a search for a new director.
Is it me, or is it patently ridiculous to be terminating someone whose work has been roundly praised in the service of a presidential administration due to expire (happily, at long last) after 192 days?

Dr. Howard has gained particular renown over the past two years for coordinating and championing health programs for workers who were sickened at ground zero, including screening, monitoring and treatment.
This post takes you to more information on Howard’s termination, including protests by Dem House Reps Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler of New York.

And this post tells us…

Prior to serving as NIOSH chief, Dr. Howard (pictured) directed the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) in California’s Department of Industrial Relations. He earned a Doctor of Medicine degree (1974), a Master of Occupational Health (1982), a Juris Doctor (1986), and a Master of Laws (1987).
And the Center for Disease Control’s media office issued this statement…

“During his six years of service, Dr. Howard was very attentive in addressing the concerns and needs of NIOSH stakeholders and he has worked diligently on many challenging issues. We thank him for his service to the country.”
Chalk this up to yet another triumph in bureaucratic ineptitude by Dr. Julie Gerberding of the CDC, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, and President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History himself; as a minor point, I should note that NIOSH differs from OSHA in that the former is not a regulatory agency and cannot issue standards enforceable by law (though OSHA has been effectively neutered also, as noted here).

All the same, I just wanted to say thanks to Dr. Howard for trying to make a difference while burdened with the yoke of dealing with Bushco’s bottom feeders and also trying to ensure our safety at the same time.

Saint Petraeus Keeps Climbing The Ladder

This MSNBC story tells us the following…

WASHINGTON - The Senate has confirmed Gen. David Petraeus as the top commander in the Middle East and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno to replace Petraeus as the chief military officer in Iraq.

The Senate voted 95-2 in favor of Petraeus and 96-1 for Odierno.
And CNN reported that the two “No” votes against Petraeus were cast by Robert Byrd and Tom Harkin, with Harkin also voting against Odierno; Byrd’s full statement is here, and I must say that it showed a lot of deliberation. Here is a notable excerpt (from the CNN story)…

Gen. Petraeus' career will be judged in large part by his role in the Iraq conflict," Byrd said. "His reticence to address other regional issues raises questions about his willingness to devote the focus and the resources needed to address them properly."
And Harkin voted against both Petraeus and Odierno because, in essence, they had no plan for redeploying our military out of Iraq to fight the greatest terrorist threats we truly face.

But aside from Byrd and Harkin, I have a feeling that this is yet another example of Congress failing on the whole “advise and consent” thing.

I mean, couldn’t our Senators have first asked Petraeus how we’re doing on countering the insurgents in Iraq, since Petraeus stated here that such an operation “could take nine to ten years”? I mean, are we in the equivalent of Year Three at this point? Or Four? Or Five?

Did anyone bother to find out the current state of Mosul, which Petraeus once described as “a textbook case of doing counterinsurgency the right way," though four months after he spoke those words, the police chief installed by Petraeus defected to the insurgents, along with most of the Sunni members of the police force (Mosul, population 1.7 million, became an insurgent stronghold, according to the Pentagon's own report – I have no word on Mosul’s current status).

Also, does Petraeus (or anyone else) have a clue as to what happened to the money we provided for the program to train and expand the Iraqi Army that somehow was looted from Iraq’s Ministry of Defense (most of the $2.3 billion ended up in foreign bank accounts, and the equipment provided for the training program overseen by Petraeus was of poor quality – both the Mosul and training issues were noted in this prior post).

Also, is the Pentagon now keeping track of fatalities by car bombs and sectarian assassinations, questions that were raised by That Ad against Petraeus last September (may be a question for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but I’d ask Petraeus anyway).

It would have been nice if our Senators had bothered to ask Petraeus for updates on this before they bothered to confirm him, wouldn’t it (and more scrutiny of Odierno, given the unpopularity of the war, would have been called for also).

95-2, huh?

Looks to me like (mentally, at least) some members of Congress haven’t returned from their July 4th recess yet.

More Friday Financial Follies

I’m definitely not an economist, but here’s how the markets seem to work (as nearly as I can get this); our weak dollar pushes up the price of oil, and when the price of oil hits a new record (sending oil futures soaring), the Dow Jones tanks, as it's doing again today. Other bad financial news impacts that also, of course, including unemployment statistics, as well as questions about whether Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will need a bailout, as is apparently the case as well.

Where am I going with this? Well, this is actually a setup to a comment about this column from Kimberly A. Strassel of the Wall Street Journal in which she more or less compliments Dick Durbin (as much as anyone from the WSJ would compliment a Democrat, which is with faint praise of course) over his “hands off” actions towards the futures markets, which are based in Chicago (and Durbin being one of the two senators from Illinois; perhaps you’ve heard of the other one? Hint: He bailed on FISA a couple of days ago)…

Give Mr. Durbin credit: He's a main reason the Chicago futures markets have continued to thrive. It was Mr. Durbin who only recently helped ensure the (Chicago Merchantile Exchange)-Nymex deal passed antitrust muster. It was Mr. Durbin -- along with Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a Chicagoan, former CME board member and House Democratic Caucus Chair -- who in February sent a public screed to both Treasury and Justice, incensed that Justice would even suggest changes in the structure of the futures markets. It was Mr. Durbin who at that time praised the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for its "vigorous oversight" of the futures markets. That would be the same CFTC that his colleagues are now bashing as an ineffective regulator.
Strassel maligns Democrats throughout much of this column (no surprise) because they, in the persons of Senators Maria Cantwell, Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden (as well as Repugs Ted “It’s A Series Of Tubes!” Stevens and Olympia Snowe) have written to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in an effort to restrict the trading of oil futures, which might keep the price of oil from soaring to new levels every other day or so.

Admittedly, since we’re talking about WSJ editorial commentary, it is “through the looking glass” to begin with. But I took issue in particular with the following…

…under the Durbin strategy, (the Democrats) can continue the sham of getting tough on speculators, all the while knowing (Durbin) will see to it they aren't allowed to wantonly destroy U.S. financial markets. As a bonus, Mr. Durbin can privately take credit for rescuing his hometown industry, sucking up its support and donations for his re-election bid this fall. The only losers are voters, who've yet to be let in on the joke of this "speculation" farce.
The so-called “farce” of speculation in futures, though admittedly not the primary cause of high gas prices (but still a factor – oil is a futures commodity), was turned into a means of making vast sums of wealth as a result of, as The Nation tells us here, “a bill exempting energy trading from regulation (inserted) into (former President Bill) Clinton's omnibus appropriations act (of 2000), avoiding hearings, floor debate and notice.” And as a result, “Enron was all set to operate in the dark” (Enron’s energy futures contracts were exempted from oversight shortly before Clinton was sworn into office in 1993).

The Nation article then goes on to tell us that Enron generated an illusory “fortune” built on energy futures speculation, which the company then used to lobby for even more deregulation before it eventually collapsed in the largest corporate bankruptcy in our country’s history, taking down investors and service-dependent consumers all over the place.

Oh, and by the way, the person who wrote the bill exempting energy trading from regulation and thus helped turn Enron into a “player” in the futures market was none other that Phil (“Whining Americans”) Gramm, and the person in charge of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission who exempted Enron’s futures contracts from regulation was Wendy Gramm, Phil’s wife (noted in the Nation article).

Update: Here's more fun with Phil Gramm, by the way.

I suppose at least one lesson to be drawn from this is that a McCain presidency (God help us) would guarantee further deregulation of futures commodities, including oil, and allow new Enrons, if you will, to operate in unregulated fashion with little if any oversight (which I’m sure would suite Strassel and her ilk just fine).

Among the results, you can rest assured we will continue to “get it” at least two ways: first, from ever-escalating gas prices, and second, from the continued evaporation of whatever investment earnings we may have gained when the soaring cost of a barrel of oil causes a stock market plunge like what we are witnessing again today.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday Stuff

Even fighting a life-threatening illness, this man still has more courage in his little finger than practically all of his peers do in their entire bodies...

...and I thought this was kind of neat, though a bit dated, and it's Robin Williams as the American flag (I could use something a little humorous as a result of this week, and let's keep in mind what he says about showing it in about two months, OK?).

Dubya Kisses Off The G8

Thus sayeth President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History as he recently departed from a gathering of world leaders (here)…

“I wish for a world free from tyranny: the tyranny of hunger, disease and free from tyrannical governments,” the president wrote. “I wish for a world in which the universal desire for liberty is realized. I wish for the advance of new technologies that will improve the human condition and protect our environment. I wish God’s blessings on all. George W. Bush.”
193 days and counting, people…

Still Trying To Mend Medicare

The New York Times reported yesterday that…

Congressional investigators said Tuesday that Medicare had paid tens of millions of dollars to suppliers improperly using identification numbers of doctors who died years ago.

The government has no reliable way to spot claims linked to dead doctors, many of whom are still listed as active Medicare providers though they died 10 or 15 years ago, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said.
And of course, “no one could have predicted” that, right?

Well, this story from last January tells us that Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services director Herb Kuhn (a former lobbyist, of course), enacted a new Medicare competitive bidding program for all manner of medical supplies, with “market rates” used as a basis for accepting bids (which the CMS anticipated to be lower) versus government-established prices.

And “The Bush administration characterizes the program as an attempt to inject market forces into Medicare and reduce federal spending,” according to the January story.

Well, “woo-hoo” for the taxpayer, right?

Not exactly, unless there’s a mechanism to root out the provider fraud that would likely ensue as they try to recover losses due to the lower-costing bids for services (and as this April post tells us, no such mechanism currently exists, nor is one specified in the pending Medicare Fraud Reduction Act sponsored by Mel Martinez, who – need I mention it? – is a Repug).

In spite of this, there actually was good news on this story which occurred yesterday in the midst of the FISA horror, and that was the return of Ted Kennedy to the Senate to break yet another Repug filibuster on pending Medicare legislation; as this story tells us, the following Repugs who voted against the Medicare bill came over to support the re-vote and break the filibuster (good for them for a change).

Lamar Alexander, Saxby Chambliss (I never thought I’d give him credit for anything), Norm Coleman (ditto…he tried to milk the “payment to dead Medicare doctors” issue on Tuesday, of course, and seriously, would he have cast this vote were it not an election year?), Susan Collins (ditto again), Bob Corker, John Cornyn (is that “Big John” video still working its magic, I wonder?), Liddy Dole, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Joe Lieberman, Mel Martinez, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Roberts, Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, Ted (“The Internet…It’s A Series Of Tubes!”) Stevens, George Voinovich, and John Warner
However, don’t think the typical Repug umbrage and indignation evaporated with Kennedy’s heroic return…

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader, said Republicans should not be blamed for cutting the doctors fees because Democrats won't agree to a short-term fix while they debate a compromise in the Senate.

"Democrats don't want a compromise. They don't want a long term extension of current law. They don't want a short term extension of current law. Yet they're not to blame for this pay cut for Medicare?" McConnell asked rhetorically.
Wow, what “constituent service,” Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao!

As you can read from here (in the “What Could Have Happened Instead Had The Filibuster Not Been Broken” department)…

  • Kentucky physicians would have lost $190 million for the care of elderly and disabled patients over the 18 months from July 2008 through December 2009 due to a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments in July 2008 and an additional 5 percent cut in 2009. On average, each Kentucky physician faced a Medicare cut of $20,000 over this 18-month period. In addition, the state’s physicians would have lost $3.7 billion for the care of elderly and disabled patients by 2016 due to nearly a decade of cuts for this important medical care.

  • 41,528 employees, 655,883 Medicare patients and 159,979 TRICARE patients in Kentucky would have been affected by these cuts.

  • In July 2008, Kentucky physicians face cuts of an additional 1.8 percent on top of the 10.6 percent cuts across the country. The 2003 Medicare law provided a temporary increase in geographic payment adjustments for certain states. This increase also would have expired on June 30, 2008 under current law.
  • And one more thing: if you want to fix McConnell for good, click here to get involved.

    How The Army Treats A Patriot

    Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher tells us here about Gina Gray, who was the public affairs director of Arlington National Cemetery (Mitchell’s post is based on a story in today’s Washington Post by Dana Milbank).

    I say Gray “was” the director because…

    When (Gray) took over…about three months ago, she discovered that cemetery officials were attempting to impose new limits on media coverage of funerals of the Iraq war dead -- even after the fallen warriors' families granted permission for the coverage. She said that the new restrictions were wrong and that Army regulations didn't call for such limitations.

    “Six weeks after The Washington Post reported her efforts to restore media coverage of funerals, Gray was demoted. Twelve days ago, the Army fired her. ‘Had I not put my foot down, had I just gone along with it and not said regulations were being violated, I'm sure I'd still be there,’ said the jobless Gray, who, over lunch yesterday in Crystal City, recounted what she is certain is her retaliatory dismissal. "It's about doing the right thing."
    Indeed it is.

    By the way (as Mitchell notes), today’s story by Milbank is actually a follow up to an April Milbank column on Lt. Col. Billy Hall, an Iraq war fatality whose family also consented to letting the media cover his Arlington burial (the military did not allow the coverage).

    This is something I’ve found myself wondering about, I must admit; I’ve been meaning to contact Barack Obama and ask him if, were he elected, he would lift Dubya’s order banning media coverage of the funerals of our heroes in Iraq.

    Or, if you want to ask him yourself, click here (may be for Illinois residents only; I'm not sure).

    Finally (speaking of military fatalities), this is the tragic story of Pfc. Joe Dwyer, who was the subject of a wonderful photo communicating true military heroism (as always, would that the politicians who sent him halfway around the world had acted with a fraction of his integrity).

    Update 7/11/08: And as long as we're on the subject...

    A FISA Follow Up On The “Limbo” Congress

    (As in, “how low can they go,” of course…).

    Glenn Greenwald tells us here which Senate Dems voted in favor of the FISA disaster…

    Bayh - Carper – Casey (voted for the Bingaman, Dodd and Specter amendments, but then voted for the bill anyway...unbelievable) - Conrad - Feinstein - Inouye - Kohl - Landrieu - Lincoln - McCaskill - Mikulski - Nelson (Neb.) - Nelson (Fla.) - Obama - Pryor - Rockefeller - Salazar - Webb - Whitehouse
    Oh, and by the way (as Greenwald communicated), a Rasmussen poll conducted on Tuesday tells us that, of those surveyed, the 110th Congress received either a good or excellent rating from nine percent of those polled.

    Yep, that’s right; for the first time, a Congressional approval rating has entered the single digits. Congratulations!

    I’m sure we can expect such new capitulations as drilling in the ANWR and our coastal zones for oil any day now.

    Fortunately, the ACLU intends to file suit over this; you can read more about it and find out how to help here.

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    Wednesday Stuff

    "The Pap Attack" gives us a history lesson of the corpocracy under Bushco... we're "a nation of whiners," huh Phil? At least none of us caused the subprime mortgage debacle - wish you could say the same...

    ...and oh yeah, remember the war, Senator McBush?...

    ...and Rachel Maddow interviews Russ Feingold with the sorry recap of today's awfulness (I want to believe him, I really do).

    The Deed Is Finally Done

    For the record, this was what was at stake (from here)…

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
    For the uninitiated, I should point out that the preceding text is, in its entirety, the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution.

    And here is further explanation (from the Wikipedia article)…

    The Fourth Amendment specifies that any warrant must be judicially sanctioned for a search or an arrest, in order for such a warrant to be considered reasonable. Warrants must be supported by probable cause and be limited in scope according to specific information supplied by a person (usually a peace officer) who has sworn by it and is therefore accountable to the issuing court.
    Well, as of about an hour ago, the craven, ignorant and morally bankrupt 110th Congress did something that previous congresses in our nation’s history were wise enough to avoid (even the 109th), and that is to act in such a manner as to totally invalidate and remove the force of law from the text that you just read.

    Oh, rest assured that I’m not being melodramatic. If you don’t want to believe me, fine. Believe constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley here (from yesterday with Rachel Maddow on “Countdown”).

    This Washington Post story tells us that the final vote was 69-28 (no word on a vote breakdown yet, but I know that’s coming). And this Daily Kos post tells us the votes on the three amendments that preceded it, which all lost: the Bingaman amendment would have delayed telco immunity until the inspectors general had completed a report on Dubya’s illegal spying; the Specter amendment required the cases to be dismissed if a court determined that the warrantless wiretapping programming was legal; and the Dodd amendment stripped the immunity provisions outright.

    I’ll have more to say about this, I assure you (as will my “A” list betters, I can imagine), but for now, there are two people I’d like to communicate with directly.

    The first is our Democratic senator, Bob Casey; even though I don’t know yet whether he voted for the final bill, I want to compliment him for voting on all three amendments (Specter voted for his own and Bingaman’s, but not Dodd’s of course; Comcast buys a lot of influence…doesn’t it, Patrick?).

    The second is a certain Democratic senator from Illinois currently running for president.

    If you’re going to carry the mantle as the presumed head of our party, Sen. Obama, you should at the very least act the part (by the way, Hillary Clinton at least had the good sense to vote No, that much I do know as of now). You can support this garbage bill (which I’m sure President Brainless will sign into law with the requisite fanfare at the earliest possible moment, and stick in another shot at the Democrats for good measure in the process) as an act of political calculation knowing that people like me would never seriously consider voting for John W. McBush, and who knows; you may be right, and you may win in November in spite of this.

    But you owe us now. And one day, you’re going to need us, on legislation, on a matter of redefinition of an issue due to a truth twisted by our corporate media, on fundraising…you name it. And unless you, as president (if you get in) undertake the now-enormous task of trying to re-right this almost inconceivable wrong, it is highly problematic as to whether or not we will be there for you.

    If you don’t believe me, take a look at the right nav column of this home page. Yes, I put back the links for Patrick Murphy even though he supported this disgrace also, but he at least bothered to stand up and offer a spirited defense of his actions, and he has been steadfast against the war also (also, Tom Manion has not presented himself as a serious congressional alternative, and I do not expect that he will).

    So now have your bacchanal, you pretenders of the 110th Congress. Eat, drink, and be merry, knowing that you have forever besmirched that most sacred of instruments upon which we base our up-to-now successful experiment in democracy begun just about 232 years ago. And know that you have now granted imperial power to the democratically elected head of our government, thus codifying his lawbreaking and accelerating what had been our slow-motion decline into fascism into what now is a full-fledged gallop.

    The most appropriate act you can do now is to travel to the locations where men who once pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” when they founded our nation do now reside, towers of courage and intellect who are surely now dust. And when you get there, dig open their graves and piss all over their earthly remains.

    God damn you all.

    Update 8/27/08: I hope they choke on their "pigs in a blanket" and get sick to their stomachs from champagne and chablis (here).

    Update 6/18/09: Kudos to the New York Times for this (don't know where else to put it at the moment).

    John W. McBush Sure Is A “Drag”

    Looks to me like “Senator Honor And Virtue” is taking lessons in comedy from Mike Huckabee, and I don’t mean that as a compliment (here)...

    The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was asked about the number of exports going to Iran, specifically the increase in cigarette exports.

    McCain looked surprised at that fact and in a line somewhat reminiscent of his "bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran" comment last year said, "Maybe that's a way of killing them." Then he followed it up quickly noting that it was a joke.
    Putting aside the fact that he apparently has no firm positions on anything unless it has been approved by a Repug-friendly focus group, I seriously question this man’s mental state and (God help us, if he were elected) would he highly concerned over whether or not he would “lose it” altogether under the strain of serving as president (based on that remark and a few others, as well as his Dubya-esque tendency to get snippy at every perceived provocation).

    This, however, does serve as a curious kind of lead-in to the fact that, in 1999, McCain once sponsored tobacco control legislation (here, which, curiously, was opposed by AMPAC, the AMA’s political action committee), though in 2007, McCain described Bush’s SCHIP veto as the “right call by the president” here, and also referred to the cigarette tax as a "phony smoke and mirrors way of paying for it."

    Funny how McCain once supported legislation with the intended goal of trying to wean Americans from one of the most addictive products on earth to opposing it when it could have served the purpose of providing health insurance for kids and their families who couldn’t afford it.

    Along with everyone else, I will take note of all of the moments when McCain compromises positions he once held for the purpose of political expediency, as he did here (and I expect to be quite busy). I have no doubt that, as a result, his presidential candidacy will eventually go up in smoke (sorry – had to say it).

    Happy Motoring On The Road To Ruin

    Last Sunday, business writer Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times wrote this extensive story outlining many of the opportunities missed up to our present hour of (approximately) $144 a gallon for gasoline (which, strangely enough, was the wish of this murdering maniac).

    There are a lot of people responsible for the situation we currently face (more Repugs, but plenty of Dems too), so let’s begin, shall we?

    …low-priced gasoline has long been part of the American social contract, according to Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and Republican leader. While in office, Mr. Gingrich battled efforts to modulate demand through tools like increased gas taxes and tighter fuel standards, and he argues that voters won’t support such measures even now.

    “They will work if you coerce the entire system and if you pretend the American people are Japanese and Europeans,” Mr. Gingrich says. “Our culture favors driving long distances in powerful vehicles and the car as a social expression.”
    Doesn’t sound like “real change” that takes “real change” to me, Newt. Oh, and by the way, how’s that plan for a space-based air traffic control system going?

    And by the way, let us take a moment to wash our white-hooded robes and extinguish the fires on our crosses for a minute and pay tribute to the happily-now-departed Jesse Helms, for he is mentioned in the following excerpt…

    In 1990, Richard H. Bryan, a Nevada Democrat, teamed up in the Senate with Slade Gorton, Republican of Washington, and proposed lifting fuel standards again over the next decade, with a goal of 40 m.p.g. for cars. Amid furious opposition from Detroit, liberal Democrats from automaking states, like Carl Levin of Michigan, joined conservative Republicans like Jesse Helms of North Carolina…to block new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. “It was one of the most frustrating issues in my Senate career,” says Mr. Gorton, who left the Senate in 2001.

    Dan Becker, then a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, still remembers his shock when he saw Mr. Levin and Mr. Helms, diametrically opposed on most issues, walk amiably together onto the Senate floor to cast their votes. “This wasn’t East-West, right-left, or North-South,” he says. “But had we passed that bill, we’d be using three million barrels less oil a day now.”

    That amount may not sound like much, given total global consumption of 85 million barrels a day, but it’s more than OPEC’s spare capacity now.
    Somehow I’m sure this untidy little episode was forgotten at Helms’ eulogy yesterday, with the services no doubt paid for in their entirety by Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds (I mean, they paid for much of Helms’ other expenses – why not this too?).

    And by the way, don’t think I’m giving Levin a pass on this.

    Continuing (with another Michigan Dem doing yet more damage)…

    (Representative John D. Dingell, the powerful Democrat from Michigan who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a man) who has defended the automakers fiercely during his 52 years on Capitol Hill, decided to support the stronger CAFE standards last year. But he does not apologize for his longtime stance. “The American auto industry has sold the cars people wanted,” he says. “You’re going to blame the auto industry for that or the American consumer? He likes it sitting in his driveway, he likes it big, he likes it safe.”
    There’s an element of truth in that, of course. But then again, you guys didn’t exactly give “him” a choice by manufacturing and marketing more fuel efficient automobiles at the expense of SUVs. Maybe you could have had an eye out for that in the event of the “rainy day” we are experiencing right now?

    (Full disclosure; we have an SUV, but we bought the most fuel efficient model we could afford some years ago with the best product ratings. When you find something with similar economy that you can use to schlep around two adults and a child on vacation with all of our stuff, let me know, OK?)

    A much more effective approach would be to simply raise taxes on gasoline, Mr. Dingell says, because higher prices are the easiest way to change buying habits. Some Europeans agree with this, noting that policy changes engineered through taxation can alter consumer choices without impeding economic growth.
    And I love the response from Lee Raymond, former CEO of ExxonMobil, who says, “There is no quick fix to this. By the time you panic, it is way too late,” as if he actually cares.

    The article discusses how Congress tried to raise the CAFE standards on vehicles and the firestorm of opposition they ended up facing primarily from Republican conservatives, but also Michigan Dems such as Levin and Dingell.

    Not to worry, though; Newt and company managed to prevent sanity from prevailing here…

    Congressional Republicans made matters worse in 1995, when they attached a rider to a huge appropriations bill forbidding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from spending any money to raise fuel standards. That law, in effect until 2001, made any change in CAFE standards impossible, says Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who has pushed for better fuel efficiency.

    Other veterans of those battles cite lobbying by the domestic automakers as a main factor in the failure of Mr. Markey’s legislation. “The auto companies didn’t see the handwriting on the wall,” (Sen. Charles) Schumer says. “The auto companies would go to people and say, ‘If you vote for CAFE standards, the auto plant in your district could shut down.’ They got the message.”
    (The threat was that raising standards would eliminate the SUV and put autoworkers out of their jobs, just to let you know).

    But for the opposing view…

    Susan M. Cischke, group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering at Ford, says the recollections of Mr. Schumer and (Repug U.S. House Rep of Delaware Mike) Castle are “way over the top — you don’t just pull up or put down auto plants.” Instead, she says, when lobbying on CAFE, “we talked with our friends and indicated what it did with jobs. You want support.”
    Translated: Schumer and Castle are right.

    In closing, let me bring to you the words of a U.S. political leader who communicated the following words on the problem we currently face…

    "Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally," he observed. "On the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny ... . It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose."

    “From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation…”
    And this person also requested "the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel -- from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun."

    Were these words spoken recently by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John Edwards? No, but they were spoken by a Democrat, who was right 30 years ago (if only we’d listened).

    Smart fellow, that Jimmy Carter.

    Oh, and by the way, Richard Cohen of the WaPo is getting a measure of praise for recalling Carter’s words also recently here, with Cohen also criticizing The Sainted Ronnie R for gutting everything Carter tried to do on energy and most everything else once he took over the White House in 1981.

    Well, my problem is that Cohen apparently knew how delusional Reagan truly was based on this Media Matters post recalling how Cohen criticized Al Gore – falsely, as it turned out – while praising Reagan’s “charm.”

    If a president doesn’t recognize the difference between reality and fantasy, it is one’s duty to stand up and say so in a public forum and to make that plain to one’s elected representatives also. But because Cohen, and way too many other people, felt a measure of devotion to “the Gipper” and his “optimism,” we are hosed on this vital issue as well as others, including terrorism (al Qaeda started in Afghanistan under Ronnie’s watch).

    Would that Cohen, and many others, had been a bit more strident in Carter’s defense when it truly mattered.

    Update 7/13/08: I wish to God I could embed this, but please go to Crooks and Liars from this link and watch Governor Ahh-nold. He echoes a lot of what is said here and shoots way up on my list of politicians with actual guts as far as I'm concerned.

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    Tuesday Stuff

    Trying to unseat Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in FLA is a mountainous task - lots of crazy Cubans down there - but I'll do what I can for Annette Taddeo here...

    ...and I could have sworn Rachel Maddow said, "your moron terror tax dollars at work," but I'm sure I was mistaken (but would I have been so wrong if I were correct, if you know what I mean?).

    It's A "Croc," All Right

    I have to admit that I find it humorous to read media commentators of varying degrees of intelligence and ability trying to “read the tea leaves” of the McCain campaign for president in an effort to figure out how he actually, really and for sure, is supposed to represent a change from George W. Milhous Bush.

    This HuffPo story tells us that McCain is even praising the success of the outdoor footwear company Crocs, as Dubya did in November 2006 (maybe not the best idea at the moment since the company’s stock is tanking, though it has lots of company unfortunately – an informal survey of the Doomsy household, though, shows that Crocs are quite comfortable for 2 out of 3 people surveyed).

    This MSNBC post referencing a New York Times article today by Adam Nagourney gives us a look at the disorganization behind the campaign (which I’m sure is partly responsible for this McCain proposal, which flies in the face of what the vast majority of this country has been telling its elected representatives for quite some time). Also, don't ask "Senator Honor And Virtue" for an economics lesson either (see, it's only an earmark when someone else does it...and again, if you like Dubya, you'll love McCain and his "tax cuts create jobs," "younger workers should be allowed to invest in private accounts and it won't affect retirees," mantra).

    And by the way, if anyone out there thinks that “the base” is going to cut McCain any slack while he's trying to decide what he is truly all about, think again.

    In terms of campaign dynamics (notwithstanding ideological preference), I have to say that I really don’t understand what’s going on with McCain (unless he really intends to do nothing but continue the ruinous Bushco reign and is purposely being evasive on the details for that reason, which I think is truly the case). Even if I preferred him as a candidate (and I most certainly do not), I have to admit that I have no understanding as to what his core principles may be, assuming he has any at all (or does he merely expect to become president because he feels it is his by right of ascension?).

    Yes, I’m partial to Obama I’ll admit, but I believe that he’s been more steadfast on the issues than our corporate media would have us believe (no surprise), and you can paint a better picture of what he is all about as a candidate (FISA is the glaring, obvious exception, however – if anyone wants to blast at him for this “just elect me and I’ll fix this once and for all” business on this issue, be my guest).

    Even if you have no intention of voting for Obama, I’m just saying that I have a better idea of what he is fundamentally about than I ever will about McCain (were he to win, Obama would be led by his handlers on some issues, rightly or wrongly – it would be inevitable for any president – but I believe McCain would be led on every issue by his people, which, as we’ve seen over these last eight, horrendous years, is a recipe for disaster).

    Update: Too funny...

    "Going Green" With Patrick

    The following appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today…

    There are too many families in Bucks County who are having a hard time coping with the price of gas. When one has to make a decision to cut down on food versus buying gas just to get to work, there is a problem. It's immoral that Exxon Mobil is making record profits while almost everyone I know pays more than $100 a week for gas just to get to work. The company made $40 billion in 2007 — the largest profit of any company in American history. Two more oil companies announced they had made $17 billion in the first three months of 2008. I'm glad that Patrick Murphy, our congressman in Bucks County, has taken a hard line on these oil companies. Murphy voted to repeal the subsidies to big oil companies and wisely invest the money in renewable energy.

    It's clear that innovation will be the key to breaking our dependence on foreign oil and driving down oil costs. It is simple economics — oil is a fossil fuel that cannot be replenished. As we run out of oil and demand continues to grow, the price will go up. The idea that we can address gas prices by finding more gas is short-sighted and dangerous. Murphy's focus on creating green energy will help boost our economy and help protect families from struggling with out of control gas prices.

    Anthony C. Badessa
    Northampton, PA
    To help Patrick, click here.

    And by the way (speaking of energy), T. Boone Pickens has a full-page ad in the New York Times today describing how we can supposedly end our addiction to foreign oil under his plan.

    I hope he doesn’t welch on his promise about this as he did here.

    Time Running Out On FISA

    The New York Times thus sayeth the following today...

    Congress has been far too compliant as President Bush undermined the Bill of Rights and the balance of powers. It now has a chance to undo some of that damage — if it has the courage and good sense to stand up to the White House and for the Constitution.

    The Senate should reject a bill this week that would needlessly expand the government’s ability to spy on Americans and ensure that the country never learns the full extent of President Bush’s unlawful wiretapping.

    The bill dangerously weakens the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. Adopted after the abuses of the Watergate and Vietnam eras, the law requires the government to get a warrant to intercept communications between anyone in this country and anyone outside it — and show that it is investigating a foreign power, or the agent of a foreign power, that plans to harm America.

    The FISA law created a court to issue those warrants quickly, and over 30 years, the court has approved nearly 20,000 while rejecting perhaps a half-dozen. In any case, the government can wiretap first and get permission later in moments of crisis.

    Lawmakers are already justifying their votes for making major changes to that proven regime by saying that the bill is a reasonable compromise that updates FISA technologically and will make it somewhat harder to spy on Americans abroad. But none of that mitigates the bill’s much larger damage. It would make it much easier to spy on Americans at home, reduce the courts’ powers and grant immunity to the companies that turned over Americans’ private communications without a warrant.

    It would allow the government to bypass the FISA court and collect large amounts of Americans’ communications without a warrant simply by declaring that it is doing so for reasons of national security. It cuts the vital “foreign power” provision from FISA, never mentions counterterrorism and defines national security so broadly that experts think the term could mean almost anything a president wants it to mean.

    Supporters will argue that the new bill still requires a warrant for eavesdropping that “targets” an American. That’s a smokescreen. There is no requirement that the government name any target. The purpose of warrantless eavesdropping could be as vague as listening to all calls to a particular area code in any other country.

    The real reason this bill exists is because Mr. Bush decided after 9/11 that he was above the law. When The Times disclosed his warrantless eavesdropping, Mr. Bush demanded that Congress legalize it after the fact. The White House scared Congress into doing that last year, with a one-year bill that shredded FISA’s protections. Democratic lawmakers promised to fix it this year.

    Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy, Russ Feingold, Christopher Dodd and Jeff Bingaman plan to offer amendments to do that, but there is little chance they will pass. The Senate should reject this bill and start over with modest legislation that makes the small needed changes and preserves Americans’ fundamental protections.

    Senator John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee for president, has supported the weakening of FISA. Senator Barack Obama vowed in January (when he was still fighting for the Democratic nomination) that he would filibuster against immunity. Now he says he will vote for an “imperfect” bill and fix it if he wins. Sound familiar?

    Proponents of the FISA deal say companies should not be “punished” for cooperating with the government. That’s Washington-speak for a cover-up. The purpose of withholding immunity is not to punish but to preserve the only chance of unearthing the details of Mr. Bush’s outlaw eavesdropping. Only a few senators, by the way, know just what those companies did.

    Restoring some of the protections taken away by an earlier law while creating new loopholes in the Constitution is not a compromise. It is a failure of leadership.
    To act on this, click here.

    A Strange Type Of "Success"

    If it’s Tuesday, then that means it’s time for more shameless wankery from Bret Stephens (here)…

    Richard Nixon came to office with a rumored secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. Maybe Barack Obama's plan to end the war in Iraq is going to wind up being a secret, too.

    The presumptive Democratic nominee set off media firecrackers last week by hinting at further refinements to his strategy for withdrawal. Previous strategies include his January 2007 call for a complete withdrawal by March 2008, followed by his call for a complete withdrawal by July 2010, or 16 months after he takes office.
    Stephens is only partially correct here (surprising that he got that much right); in January 2007, Obama called for a withdrawal of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008 here, and afterwards (seeing as how Commander Codpiece has no intention whatsoever of even significantly drawing down our forces, to say nothing of removing combat personnel altogether), Obama revised that strategy to one combat brigade a month for 16 months here.

    (And even though we’re talking about the Murdoch Street Journal here, it’s still pathetic to see this spin and misinformation on Obama, who’s actually trying to do something responsible on the most important issue we face, versus Dubya and McBush, who want war without end in Mesopotamia.)

    And by the way, concerning Nixon (as noted here), he never said that he had a “secret plan” during the 1968 presidential campaign, but that was the phrasing of a reporter (a matter of semantics, I know). Also…

    The election promises of the Nixon administration had positive results for the White House. Many potential peace activists were not ready to march on the Pentagon...until Nixon was given a fair chance. After all, troops were being withdrawn, the bombing had stopped, and diplomats were talking in Paris.[7] In addition, as the White House gradually pulled troops from Vietnam, the media shifted from the destruction of Vietnam--even while the U.S. air war and coordinated ground assaults in Southeast Asia persisted at a very high rate of killing. [8]
    But I suppose what really got me frosted in Stephens’ column today was the following…

    The delightful irony, of course, is that Mr. Obama's prospective task in Iraq has been made infinitely easier by the success of President Bush's surge, the very policy he derided only a year ago.
    And then Stephens says, “gee, that says something about Obama’s judgment, doesn’t it?” And my answer is, “well, considering that he opposed the war from the very start and has continually worked with other members of Congress to try and end it (and by the way, try criticizing Chuck Hagel on this, all you lickspittle pundits, if you just love Dubya’s surge so damn much, since Hagel has been at least as vocal against the war as Obama, probably more so)…yeah, I guess it does say something about Obama’s judgment, and I wish that judgment was shared by more of the Beltway cretins who will say ‘six more months’ forever” – by the way, that “Friedman unit,” if you will, has been used as a barometer by Republicans dating back to the Philippine war fought under President McKinley in 1900.

    My main point, though, is that I’m tired of hearing about how “successful” this damn surge has been.

    Here are a whole bunch of Iraq war statistics dated about a week ago. I’ll present a few excerpts to indicate the “success” of the surge…

  • Spent & Approved War-Spending - About $600 billion of US taxpayers' funds. In June 2008, President Bush signed a bill approving about 200 billion more for 2008, which will bring the cumulative total to close to $800 billion.

  • U.S. Monthly Spending in Iraq - $12 billion in 2008

  • U.S. Spending per Second - $5,000 in 2008 (per Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on May 5, 2008)

  • Cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq - $390,000 (Congressional Research Service)

  • Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.

  • Missing - $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)

  • Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings

  • Iraqis Displaced Inside Iraq, by Iraq War, as of May 2007 - 2,255,000

  • Iraqi Refugees in Syria & Jordan - 2.1 million to 2.25 million

  • Iraqi Unemployment Rate - 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect

  • Consumer Price Inflation in 2006 - 50%

  • Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition - 28% in June 2007 (Per, July 30, 2007)

  • Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 - 40%

  • Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000

  • Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion - 12,000

  • Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion - 2,000

  • Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 1 to 2 hours, per Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Per Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007)

  • Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 10.9 in May 2007

  • Average Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 5.6 in May 2007

  • Pre-War Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 16 to 24

  • Number of Iraqi Homes Connected to Sewer Systems - 37%

  • Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies - 70% (Per, July 30, 2007)

  • Water Treatment Plants Rehabilitated - 22%

  • Iraqis "strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops - 82%

  • Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security - less than 1%

  • Iraqis who feel less ecure because of the occupation - 67%

  • Iraqis who do not have confidence in multi-national forces - 72%
  • And speaking of our troop presence, it looks like Nouri al-Maliki believes we’ve worn out our welcome a bit in Iraq (ya’ think?) here, but we know what President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History intends to do about that, right? Which is to say, nothing?

    And while we’re patting ourselves on the back over the surge (even though Iraq STILL doesn’t have an oil law and is trying to work out that whole “power-sharing” thing with the Sunnis), how about noting from this article that, while other countries (notably in Scandinavia) have agreed to take in thousands of Iraq war refugees, we have yet to accept anything more than a trickle by comparison.

    I would ask that you keep this all in mind the next time you hear Stephens, either of the Kagans, Michael O’Hanlon, or any other war cheerleader claim that the surge is a “success” because multiple-fatality bombings in Iraq decreased from 42 in May 2007 to 14 in May 2008, or the country has descended from 160 to 178 on the global corruption list, whatever that means (here).

    I read this line in a Bucks County Courier Times Guest Opinion awhile back, and I think it applies here; if this is success, I’d hate to see failure.

    Update: What Arianna sez...

    Monday, July 07, 2008

    Monday Stuff

    The feeling is mutual, Senator McBush (h/t Crooks and Liars)...

    ...and it looks like somebody else saw "WALL-E" besides yours truly (minor spoiler alert)...

    ...Rachel Maddow pinch hits for K.O. on "Countdown" with more Bush scandals, including ignoring al-Maliki in Iraq to keep our people there, as well as DOJ nonsense and a reconstituted al Qaeda...

    ...and by the way, believe it or not, today is the five-year anniversary of the outing of Valerie Plame (my, how time does fly for the cowardly and well-connected).

    Update 7/8/08: I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Bushco to budge on this one either (nice try, though).

    From Trash To Triumph

    (Spoiler alert - I may end up “spilling the beans” on a popular movie currently in theaters.)

    I know a lot has been written and said already about the new Disney/Pixar film “WALL-E,” which, as is the case with any well-done product of our pop culture, ends up as a prism for our own belief systems, with conservatives considering it to be a “90-minute lecture on the dangers of over consumption, big corporations, and the destruction of the environment” (actually, as noted here, the film runs for 98 minutes to be exact), and those left of center seeing the movie (more accurately, I think) as a tale of how truly entwined human beings are with every aspect of life on earth.

    I took the young one to see it at a monster multiplex near us over the weekend, and I have to tell you that it is truly a well-done, enjoyable film, despite the admittedly bleak aspects of its opening. Each Pixar movie contains original and well-realized stories, and I cannot emphasize the importance of that enough; if you can’t buy into the world they’re presenting for you, then these movies simply won’t work, and as far as I’m concerned, Pixar has never experienced that problem.

    The film, at its core, is a “love story” of sorts between WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) and EVA (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), with the latter robot sent to earth to scan for signs of life during a period in which earth is uninhabited by human life, though not so by plant life, as it turns out.

    After some, shall we say, tentative moments, EVA is more or less “summoned by the mother ship” upon discovering a specimen and travels back to the Axiom, the floating space mass containing those remaining from earth who are pretty much just hanging out, all fat, dumb and happy.

    (Incidentally, much has been made of the fact that the humans are portrayed as grossly overweight because of their sedentary lifestyle. That’s true, however the movie does also note that this is partly due to the effect of extended space travel.)

    The conflict in the movie arises when the Axiom’s captain realizes that EVA’s plant discovery means that earth can be colonized again, but the ship’s computer (nice touch for Sigourney Weaver to “voice” that role) intends to keep everyone out in space and not disrupt the status quo, even if it means getting the captain out of the way; I won’t give away any more plot than that.

    There is really nothing that is frightening about WALL-E or provocative; this was the most well-attended G-rated film I’ve seen in awhile (a testimony in part to Pixar’s success also). The animation is typically stunning, especially the opening shots of the Axiom, and there is so much going on that you could probably watch the film again and pick out what you missed the first time around.

    And like all well-made films, the “message” comes across pretty much through the telling of the story, with the robots helping those onboard the ship to actually rediscover their own humanity (with an assist from, “Hello, Dolly”). And by the way, Peter Gabriel’s “Down To Earth,” played at the end credits, is a great song.

    I have to admit that it was somewhat disconcerting to watch the first half hour or so of the movie, not because it was weak in any way, but because it contained very little dialogue, though it moved the story along just fine. But the young one and others of his age (and younger) in attendance were not restless while watching the movie in spite of that (as well as the adults), and I would argue that that was the case also because, when it comes to exploring the urgency of the issues touched upon in this wonderful film, words should no longer be necessary.

    And speaking of Peter Gabriel's song, here it is (no video of the film...sorry).

    A Culprit In The Corporate Media Military Pivot

    We know about the furor a week ago yesterday when Gen. Wesley Clark, after paying tribute to all-but-named Repug presidential candidate John McBush's military service, said that that experience alone didn’t qualify McBush to be president, which is correct; no single experience by any presidential candidate, however admirable, does not automatically merit election to the presidency.

    Well, as The Carpetbagger Report tells us here, John Kerry appeared on Faze The Nation yesterday (stole that from a cartoon; can’t recall which one) and cited many of the flip-flops of “Senator Honor And Virtue,” which earned Kerry the predictable scorn from our corporate media which Just Loves McBush So Stinkin’ Much You Can’t Believe It.

    And if you don’t want to believe me, that’s OK; just check out the pic at the top of this post courtesy of Sam Loomis and The Daily Kos (apparently, writing favorable coverage about John W. McBush can earn a lucky journo the right to sit in preferred seating on his private plane; I would be ashamed to receive such a perk, speaking only for myself).

    Well, as I considered the Clark interview and now the Kerry interview, I found myself wondering not so much about the subjects, but the interviewer, and that would be this guy.

    As Bob Somerby tells us here, Bob Schieffer told Howard Kurtz (birds of a feather) in 2003 that Schieffer became friends with Dubya when President Mistake was the front man for the Texas Rangers baseball team (which, like everything else Dubya has ruined – hopefully this country also starting next year – has improved greatly since he was no longer in charge of it). And Schieffer’s brother Tom became a partner with Dubya in the Rangers, investing $1.4 million for a 4.2 percent interest in the club (actually a greater share than Bush owned).

    Somerby also tells us of how Dubya and Tom Schieffer also seemed to be a two-headed ownership monster, if you will, of the Rangers, with Dubya playing “good cop” to Schieffer’s “bad cop,” with the latter having run-ins with baseball legend Nolan Ryan and also Rafael Palmeiro (Schieffer signed first baseman Will Clark while negotiations with Palmeiro, also a first baseman, were supposedly progressing, thus guaranteeing the job to Clark instead).

    I don’t know if brother Bob’s indirect relationship to Dubya led to his legendary antipathy towards Al Gore, as Somerby tells us about in 1999 and 2003 radio sessions conducted by Schieffer, but at the very least, that relationship between the Dubya and the Schieffers should have precluded Bob’s right to speak out on any political matter involving someone who apparently was more than a business acquaintance (Tom ultimately went to become our nation’s ambassador to Japan).

    And as this Democratic Underground post points out, the one scandal involving Dubya that Schieffer bothered to report on is the GAO one involving Lurita Doan? Considering the war, the DOJ attorney scandals, the contractor fraud, and the White House’s ongoing effort to fight common-sense policies aimed at mitigating the climate crisis?

    That’s like convicting Saddam Hussein for the 1982 murders of 148 people in Dujail but not the 5,000 civilians he was accused of killing in the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988.

    (Oops, never mind – we already did that).

    So the next time Bob Schieffer decides to wax indignant at a Democratic political figure for speaking the truth, he would do well to remember his own cozy past with our ruling cabal and realize we could just as easily return the favor right back at him.

    Update: Keep wanking, Bob.

    More Hot Air From Dubya On Global Warming

    This Yahoo News story tells us that President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History is poised once more to muff an opportunity on the climate crisis (and I love the way "constructive" is in quotes here)…

    "Yeah, I'll be constructive," Bush told a joint news conference after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on the eve of the G8 summit in the northern mountain resort of Toyako.
    I sincerely hope that our next president will not answer a reporters’ question with “yeah,” in a manner as if he had been interrupted from trying to buy prophylactics inside a public rest room.

    "I also am realistic enough to tell you that if China and India don't share the same aspiration that we're not going to solve the problem," Bush said.
    God, I am so sick of this numbskull blaming India and China for the climate crisis while our planet continues to melt! Besides, as the story tells us later…

    Some 190 nations including the United States agreed in December in Bali to reach a deal on a post-Kyoto treaty by the end of 2009.

    "India and China agreed in Bali that they were ready to move. So what Bush is harping at is a bit out of date," said Antonio Hill, climate change expert at charity Oxfam.
    And in case anyone out there thinks John W. McBush will be an improvement, I should point out that, according to this Salon article, Justice Antonin (Kill The D.C. Handgun Ban But Don’t Bring One Into Our Workplace) Scalia (one of McBush’s favorite judges) came within one vote of arguing successfully, in the Massachusetts v. EPA case, that carbon dioxide was not a pollutant.

    I did some more digging to find some of the times in the past when Dubya has obstructed on this issue and came up with some additional information (I have to differentiate, though, between Dubya’s gamesmanship within this country through the nonsensical antics of Stephen Johnson, among others, at his EPA and the similar behavior of Incurious George among leaders of countries on the world stage).

    As you can see here, Dubya first started “beating the drum” against India and China in June 2001 and continued to do so here in 2003 (this excerpt is noteworthy)…

    Bush's scapegoats, however, are hardly responsible for the climate-change crisis. China accounted for just 7% of the world's CO2 emissions over the course of the 20th century; India, for only 2%. The United States, in contrast, accounted for more than 30% of the total. (See Graph 1.) Moreover, emissions levels in the United States continue to surge, rising every year between 1991 and 2000, the latest year for which data is available. According to the Department of Energy, the country's fossil-fuel-related CO2 emissions increased by more than 2.7 percent between 1999 and 2000. In contrast, China reduced its emissions by almost 2.2% in 2000, its third straight year of reductions.
    Please understand, by the way, that I am not opposed to China and India doing their fair share. However, any adult world leader out there is going to recognize the fact that, as on other issues, each will seek leverage over the other. However, we’re not talking about grain, loose nukes or reserves of plutonium. We’re talking about the planet, for God’s sake!

    (Preaching to the choir, I know…).

    So, without our help, the Kyoto Protocols went “into force” in February 2005 without our participation (here), and this notes that, in 2007, Dubya undercut the climate change issue at the G8 summit again (calling for reduced emissions among which two countries once more? Go ahead, guess).

    Well, while all of this is going on, I should note that Rice University ecologist Evan Siemann (here) has discovered that the Chinese tallow tree, first brought to Texas in 1900 because the wax-covered seeds were used as an agricultural crop, has been “turning Gulf coast grasslands into single-species forests” due to the effects of global warming (more info here)…

    "The incredible diversity of native plants in the coastal prairies is gone within 30 years after the Chinese tallow tree invades the area," said Siemann, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. "By studying how this tree has been able to thrive, we should be able to learn more about the rules that govern a biological community and the interactions among species within that community."

    Siemann is concerned about the spread of Chinese tallow trees, because once they replace bluestem grasses, sunflowers, blazing stars and other plants found in the prairies, those species and their associated animal fauna will not come back.
    So due to global warming, a breed of Chinese tree is taking over in Texas and, in the process, altering the ecology throughout the state once and for all.

    Leave it to Dubya not to get the irony.